How Do You Define an Apprenticeship? (With Benefits and Careers)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 29 November 2021

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

If you want to improve your career or begin a new one, you may wonder how to define an apprenticeship, along with what these apprenticeships can offer you. Apprenticeships provide you with both practical and theoretical experience. Knowing about how an apprenticeship can benefit you may improve your chances of succeeding in your field or industry. In this article, we define apprenticeships, discuss how they work, inform you about how to obtain one and provide several examples of careers that begin with apprenticeships.

How do you define an apprenticeship?

Most people define an apprenticeship as a program that prepares you for a specific type of job or industry while meeting a company's need for highly skilled employees. It's a model that primarily utilises on-the-job training, often under a mentor. Apprentices may be new hires or current employees who require an upgrade of their skills.

Apprenticeships encompass a wide variety of career paths. While they continue to be an effective training strategy in industries such as manufacturing and construction, apprenticeships are also available in fast-growing industries like information technology, health care, energy, transportation and logistics.

Related: Apprenticeship vs. Internship: What are the Differences?

How do apprenticeships work?

Apprenticeships depend widely on the company and the industry in which you want to work, but most feature some or all of these components:

Business involvement

The companies that hire apprentices form their own apprenticeship programmes. Employers often work together with industry associations, apprenticeship councils or other partnerships to share resources and ideas for maintaining their programmes. These programmes typically have accreditation from governing bodies or from their local regulatory boards.

On-the-job training

You typically undergo hands-on training under the guidance of an experienced mentor. Companies conduct training in accordance with national industry standards. Some aspects of the apprenticeship may vary depending on the employer, such as company culture, available supervisors and funding.

Related instruction

Many apprenticeships require you to take academic courses to gain more knowledge related to the career. Companies collaborate with academic partners to develop the courses for their apprenticeship programmes. Companies, technical schools, community colleges or apprenticeship training schools provide the related instruction. You can receive related instruction in your physical job environment, in a classroom or online.

Rewards for skill gains

Apprenticeships differ from other learning programmes because you typically earn pay for your services. You also have career advancement opportunities because many employers hire professionals from their apprenticeships. If you do obtain a job from an apprenticeship, you may have a higher earning potential because you have previous experience in the field.

Benefits of becoming an apprentice

Apprenticeships allow students to gain practical experience while earning a salary for their work. Here are several other benefits associated with completing an apprenticeship:

  • Hands-on training: Apprenticeships require you to use your practical skills and provide you with a holistic education experience from experienced professionals in your field.

  • Education: Since they have an educational element, apprenticeships are becoming an increasingly popular alternative to a college degree. Apprenticeship programmes are nationally recognised and regulated by trusted agencies.

  • Strong career: Apprenticeships allow you to begin your career more quickly and establish a reputation in your industry.

How to get an apprenticeship

Here's a guide to help you earn an apprenticeship:

1. Find a suitable apprenticeship

When looking for an apprenticeship, consider looking for one that matches your needs and helps you accomplish your career goals. You can research potential apprenticeships on career websites or by utilising any employment resources provided by your post-secondary institution. If you're interested in working for particular companies, you may want to contact those companies to ask whether they have any apprenticeship opportunities.

2. Meet the eligibility requirements

Apprenticeship programmes typically have varying eligibility requirements, including your educational background and work experience. These requirements often prefer a certain age and that you have some experience in the field. For example, employers of social workers typically require candidates to have crisis intervention training. Employers may also require you to have a specific level of education for an apprenticeship.

For example, they may require some candidates to have completed a master's or PhD programme. You can also expect to take aptitude tests during the application process to gauge if your skill set is appropriate for their industry.

3. Apply for the apprenticeship

When you meet all the eligibility requirements for an organisation, you can send the hiring manager your application materials. You can typically do this through the company website or through a career search website. Some organisations may ask you to interview for the apprenticeship before they accept you.

Careers that start with an apprenticeship

You can find apprenticeship opportunities in almost every industry, but some rely more on apprenticeships than others. The following are six jobs that commonly begin with an apprenticeship:

1. Dental assistant

Average salary: $15,576 per month

Primary duties: Dental assistants help full-time dentists with procedures like dental fillings, crowns and extractions. They also help with the creation of moulds based on dental impressions. These professionals help prepare patients for surgery when necessary. Dental assistants communicate with patients and ensure they understand any dental conditions or procedures. They also help with administrative tasks and prepare examination areas. If you want to work in this field, you may want to develop your analytical skills. That's because dental assistants spend extended periods of time reviewing X-rays and helping dentists determine diagnoses.

2. Tailor

Average salary: $17,165 per month

Primary duties: Tailors alter a variety of clothing, such as suits, dresses, pants and blouses. Tailors use sewing machines and individual needles for sewing techniques to ensure that their clients' clothing fits properly. Tailor apprenticeships require approximately 4,500 hours of work. Those who want to work as custom tailors typically require a minimum of 8,000 hours. If you want to work in this field, consider developing your attention to detail. This ensures you obtain accurate measurements for your tailoring and increases customer satisfaction by providing properly fitted clothing.

3. Hairdresser

Average salary: $17,778 per month

Primary duties: Hairdressers cut and style their customers' hair. Their duties also include washing and coloring hair. They may also recommend and sell the products of their salon to their clients. These professionals often communicate with vendors and suppliers for new hair products. Some hairdressers attend conventions where they can win awards for styling their model's hair. If you want to pursue this career, consider developing your communication and creativity. Communication skills are important as hairdressers interact with clients daily. Creativity skills may help you develop unique hairstyles.

4. Paralegal

Average salary: $18,141 per month

Primary duties: Paralegals conduct interviews with their clients and help lawyers with administrative tasks and research. These professionals locate witnesses and conduct investigations when they require more information for their cases, and they also draft legal documents, including summaries or depositions. If you're interested in becoming a paralegal, consider developing your interpersonal skills. These skills help ensure that you succeed in interviews and depositions. They also help you ask relevant questions and build trust with clients.

Related: How to Become a Paralegal

5. Nurse

Average salary: $30,037 per month

Primary duties: Nurses help with the treatment and diagnosis of patients. These professionals conduct and order tests to help determine whether symptoms shown in patients contribute to larger health issues. They also prescribe medications and assist with medical procedures to promote the health and safety of their patients. Nurse practitioners collaborate with various professionals to develop a care plan and communicate with patients to ensure they understand all medical terms involved with their condition. They help patients with overall care and aid with the ongoing treatment of chronic conditions.

If you want to work in this field, consider building your physical endurance, as nurse practitioners typically work extensive hours to provide high-quality care to patients.

6. Social worker

Average salary: $31,070 per month

Primary duties: Social workers manage cases for clients and provide them with resources that help them navigate their environments. These professionals work across a variety of industries that require social aid for clients. For example, social workers can work in schools, health care settings and community organisations. These professionals require a strong understanding of assessments, along with general knowledge about ethics.

Related: What Is a Social Worker? (Definition and Types)

Salary figures reflect data listed on Indeed Salaries at time of writing. Salaries may vary depending on the hiring organisation and a candidate's experience, academic background and location.

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